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QUESTION:

My question is about OSC's military knowledge. Although I'm only 16, I aspire for a position of leadership in the military, and I wonder where OSC gets his knowledge of the fine skill of military leadership. From Ender's actions as a Commander, I've already got some ideas on how to lead men willingly and would like to know where OSC learned this.

-- Submitted Anonymously

OSC REPLIES: - October 2, 2003

When I was ten or so, my parents gave me Bruce Catton's Army of the Potomac trilogy. While this brilliant history is about many things (it is the most perfectly detailed book about every level of the military experience), it is especially effective in explaining why good commanders were good, and bad ones bad. It had to do with their ability (or lack of it) in military affairs; the degree to which they "followed the book" or took daring steps; how they were affected by the degree of intelligence they had about the enemy movements, positions, and numbers; and, most important, how they used their men and how their men felt about them. Grant wasn't loved like McClellan, for instance, but his soldiers knew that he was using them effectively, and they trusted him in a way they never trusted anyone before.

After reading that, I also read many other books of history, including military histories. And historical novels. From Alexander and Napoleon to Rommel and Patton, from the Japanese and Americans in WWII to Cortez and Pizarro in the Americas. When it came time to write Ender's Game - and, more important, the novel version, which is far more explicit about good and bad commanders - I had a thorough grounding in history. But I didn't open any of those books while writing - Ender and the rival commanders weren't modeled on anybody in particular. I wrote from what I had internalized about command.

Apparently I got at least some things right - the novel has been used in courses in command at the Marine University at Quantico, and I've been told that the strategists who came up with the military doctrines that were used in Afghanistan and Iraq had some of the principles in Ender's Game in the back of their mind when they wrote. So we went full circle.

I never served in the military. But I respect and honor those who do - and do it well. So good luck to you!

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